“I Am YU” Campaign Raises $6 Million From 2,700 Donors in 24 Hours, Shattering Fundraising Goal
On September 20, Sy Syms School of Business senior Avi Sebbag was one of hundreds of volunteers making phone calls on behalf of Yeshiva University in Weissberg Commons on the Wilf Campus. Armed with donor lists, the group was on a mission: to raise $5 million in 24 hours for the University.
But there was a catch: “We have to make our $5 million goal in 24 hours or all donations will be returned,” Sebbag told his potential donor on the call. “It’s all on the line right now. Can we count on you?”
After a few seconds of silence, Sebbag broke out into a smile and said, “That’s great! Thank you so much!” and marked down the donation on his scorecard.
For 24 hours straight hours between noon on Tuesday, September 20, and noon on Wednesday, September 21, hundreds of volunteers like Sebbag worked in operations rooms set up on the Wilf and Israel Henry Beren Campuses to help YU meet its goal during its first-ever Day of Giving. The campaign’s theme, “I Am YU,” sought to show the University’s impact on people and communities worldwide—not only students, alumni and faculty, but also the many programs, initiatives and works done by members of its community that are bettering the lives of those around them.
The hundreds of volunteers, which included high school students from the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy/Yeshiva University High School for Boys (MTA) and Samuel H. Wang High School for Girls (Central), undergraduates, alumni, staff and members of the broader community, made sure that the University not only reached its goal but exceeded it, eventually raising $6,010,870 from over 2,700 donors. The funds will go to maintain scholarships, community engagement, student life, career development and dozens of other efforts designed to improve student life and academic outcomes.
“I am inspired by the ability of the Yeshiva University community to unify around the common goal of ensuring the Jewish future,” said President Richard M. Joel about the campaign’s success. “As the flagship of the Modern Orthodoxy strengthens, the entire Modern Orthodox community grows even stronger than it already is.”
Buzz for the campaign began building on campus days before, as students, faculty, staff, alumni and others shared short videos and posts on social media describing how YU had shaped them, with the hashtag #IamYU. The excitement grew on Monday, September 19, when the campaign unveiled a memorable video narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator and star of the widely acclaimed Broadway musical Hamilton and a 2009 YU honorary degree recipient, that demonstrated how people and communities around the world had been transformed by YU.
The high-energy environment was boosted by performances from musicians and comedians, hourly raffles for prizes, and plenty of food to keep the momentum going.
All contributions made on the Day of Giving were quadrupled, thanks to matching funds provided by a group of generous YU supporters, including Debbie and Elliot Gibber, Gloria and Harvey Kaylie, Debbie and Howard Jonas, Vivian and Henry Rosenberg, Rabbi Nathan E. Zemel, Lee Samson, Drs. Monique and Mordecai Katz, Mindy and and Ira Mitzner, Zahava and Moshael Straus, Rina and Dr. Henry Kressel, Hadassah and Marvin Bienenfeld, Naomi Azrieli, Lotte and Ludwig Bravmann, Debbie and Daniel Schwartz, Mark and Jane Wilf, Drs. Jack M. and Gitta Nagel, Zygmunt and Audrey Wilf, Ruth and Irwin Shapiro, Judy and Morry Weiss, Marjorie Diener Blenden, Rose and Philip Friedman, Barbara and Michael M. Gamson, Malki and J. Philip Rosen, Shira and Dr. Daniel Yoshor, and Linda and Michael Jesselson.
“The outpouring of support by people who love and respect YU was truly astounding,” said Alan Secter, executive director of annual giving and major gifts and one of the primary organizers of the campaign. “But even more important than the funds we raised was strengthening the sense of connection and community that is so important to YU’s continued success.”
“The success of the campaign shows that YU is here, alive, well and ready for the future,” said Elliot Gibber, national chair of the YU Annual Fund.
To support Yeshiva University, please visit www.yu.edu/support.